My Two Dads
Father’s Day gives many of us the opportunity to celebrate one of the most important men in our lives, but for Zach, an 8-year-old boy from San Francisco, there's more than one reason to celebrate.
Zach's dads, Paul and Neil didn’t know they were going to meet the love of their lives when they logged on to Gay.com in the summer of 2004. The two Boston boys connected with each other on a Thursday night in October of that year and immediately hit it off. They’d been chatting for only a short while when they realized they both lived in the same city. As they each took turns asking and answering questions, Neil eventually asked Paul for his address and was surprised to find that he was chatting with his next-door neighbor. Paul had moved into the same apartment complex only three weeks prior to their chat.
“Not only were we neighbors, we actually shared a wall between us,” Neil said. “It was exciting, but it also freaked us out a bit that we were so close.”
The two said goodnight and didn’t speak again until they ran into each other in the halls of their apartment a few weeks later. On an impulse Paul invited Neil over to his apartment to watch a baseball game and Neil accepted.
“We didn’t spend much time watching the game that first night,” Neil said. “We talked for several hours and discovered we had a lot in common. Before I left that night I knew Paul was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.” During their conversation Paul revealed that he had a son from a previous marriage and shortly after that night Paul invited Neil over once more to meet his son. “I was nervous about meeting him even though Zach was only 10 months old when we were introduced. However, I instantly fell in love with him and knew I wanted to be a part of his life,” Neil said.
Shortly thereafter, Paul and Neil decided to begin a relationship together and eight years later they are still going strong as a close-knit family.
“I was always told I would never have children because I was gay,” Neil said. “But even though Zach is not my biological child he is still my son in every way. I’ve seen him take his first step and say his first word, I can’t imagine not being there for any big moment in his life. I think it’s crazy sometimes because if it wasn’t for Gay.com I wouldn’t have met my family.”
Zach’s mother, who shares joint custody with Paul, eventually fell in love with another man and when he accepted a job in San Francisco, Neil and Paul decided to move as well. “We wanted Zach to remain close with all four of his parents,” Paul said. “I think he’s a lucky boy to have so much love in his life from so many people. We’re just one big happy nontraditional family.”
Today, Zach attends elementary school in San Francisco and spends alternating weeks with Neil and Paul, and his mother and her partner. “Thankfully we all get along pretty well,” Paul said. “Zach has a lot of positive energy in his life.”
When asked if Zach ever asks questions about his family Paul replied, “For Zach, his family is all he’s ever known, so it’s normal to him. He also attends school with a few other students who have nontraditional families as well, so he doesn’t see it as anything but normal—and he’s right."
Zach’s family is proof that “traditional” families aren’t the only way to grow up in a loving and positive environment. For those who feel that nontraditional families are damaging to children, Paul wants people to know that Zach is just like any other all-American boy. “He’s an excellent student and he’s really gotten into sports, especially baseball.” Paul said. “He even loves coming to my softball games.”